Disruption of the video game market, illustrated

A core idea in Clay Christen’s disruptive technology theory is that incumbents eventually “overshoot” the needs of customers by adding excess performance, complexity etc. This creates room for disruptors to go after less demanding customers by creating simpler, less expensive and less technologically advanced products.

John Madden Football has sold over 70 million copies and is perhaps the most iconic video game of the last decade.  

Here are the controls you need to learn to play Madden’s most recent version:

CONTROLS
COMPLETE CONTROLS
EA SPORTS ARCADE CONTROLS OFFENSE
BEFORE THE SNAP QB CONTROLS
A Button snap ball
B Button (Hold) coach cam
1 Button call your shots
D-Pad Left or Right switch controlled player
– Button call timeout
DURING THE PLAY QB CONTROLS
Control Stck or D-Pad move player
Flick Wii Remote Down Lightly = throw ball lob (gesture based passing)
Flick Wii Remote Down Quickly = throw ball bullt (gesture based passing)
Point Wii Remote At Plyaer + A Button (Tap) = throw ball lob (point and bass)
C Button (Hold) + Flick Wii Remote throw away (gesture bases passing)
Point Wii Remote Off Screen + A Button throw away (point and pass)
DURING THE PLAY RUNNING WITH THE BALL
Control Stick or D-Pad move player
A or B Button stiff arm, juke, spin
Shake Wii Remote power move
Drum Wii Remote break tackle
DURING THE PLAY CATCHING THE BALL
Flick Wii Remote Up catch the ball
AFTER THE PLAY
A Button (Hold) no huddle
B Button (Hold) spike ball
– Button call timeout
EA SPORTS ARCADE CONTROLS DEFENSE
DURING THE PLAY CONTROLS
Control Stick or D-Pad move player
Flick Wii Remote big hit
Flick Wii Remote + D-Pad Down (Hold) low hit
Flick Wii Remote Down swat ball
Flick Wii Remote Up jump, intercept
Swing Wii Remote Left or Right rip, swim, spin
BEFORE THE SNAP CONTROLS
Point Wii Remote At a Player + A Button or D-Pad Left or Right switch controlled player
B Button (Hold) coach cam
DURING THE PLAY EA SPORTS ARCADE CONTROLS DEFENSE
Point Wii Remote At QB + A Button (Hold) sack the qb
Point Wii Remote At Runner + A Button (Hold) stop the run
Point Wii Remote At Receiver + A Button (Hold) defend the pass
CONVENTIONAL CONTROLS OFFENSE
BEFORE THE SNAP QB CONTROLS
A Button snap ball
Z Button (Hold) coach cam
Point Wii Remote At Player + B Button qb pre-play menu
2 Button quick audibles
B Button quick qb audibles
D-Pad Left or Right switch controlled player
Z Button (Hold) + D-Pad or A Button lock-on (gesture based only)
1 Button call your shots
– Button call timeout
DURING THE PLAY QB CONTROLS
Control Stick move player
B Button (Hold) sprint
Flick Wii Remote Down throw ball (gesture based only)
Point Wii Remote At Player + A Button throw ball (point and pass)
D-Pad + A Button lock-on (gesture based passing)
Point Wii Remote At Player + Z Button (Hold) lock-on (point and pass)
Control Stick Left or Right precision passing (while throwing the ball)
Z Button (Hold) + Throw the Ball pump fake (gesture based passing)
C Button (Hold) + A Button pump fake (point and pass)
C Button (Hold) + Throw Ball throw away (gesture based passing)
Point Wii Remote Off Screen + A Button throw away (point and pass)
Shake Nunchuk qb avoidance
C Button (Hold) dive (when past the line of scrimmage)
C Button (Tap) slide (when past the line of scrimmage)
DURING THE PLAY RUNNING WITH THE BALL
Control Stick move player
B Button (Hold) sprint
D-Pad Left or Right stiff arm
Z Button juke
Z Button + Control Stick Left, Right or Down directional juke
A Button spin
C Button (Hold) dive
Shake Wii Remote power move
Drum Wii Remote break tackles
DURING THE PLAY CATCHING THE BALL
Flick Wii Remote Up catch the ball
DURING THE PLAY BLOCKING
Push Wii Remote Forward impact block
D-Pad Down (Hold) + Push Wii Remote Forward cut block
AFTER THE PLAY
A Button no huddle, hurry up
B Button spike ball
– Button call timeout
C Button + Z Button instant replay
1 Button bring up playcall (only with gameflow activated)
CONVENTIONAL CONTROLS DEFENSE
BEFORE THE SNAP CONTROLS
Z Button (Hold) coach cam
Point Wii Remote At Player + B Button pre-play menu
B Button lb pre-play menu
Point Wii Remote At Player + A Button or D-Pad Left or Right switch controlled player
1 Button call your shots
– Button call timeout
DURING THE PLAY CONTROLS
Control Stick move player
B Button (Hold) sprint
A Button control defender nearest to the ball
D-Pad Up or Down pass, run commit
C Button dive
Z Button (Hold) strafe
Shake Wii Remote big hit
Shake Wii Remote D-Pad Down (Hold) low hit
Flick Wii Remote Down swat
Flick Wii Remote Up jump, intercept
Shake Wii Remote Left or Right rip, swim, spin
D-Pad Up strip ball
Drum Wii Remote + Drum Nunchuk tackle boost
KICKING
Point Wii Remote Down + A Button (Hold) + Swing Wii Remote Up kick the ball
KICK RETURNING
A Button (Tap) switch players
Hold Wii Remote Up and Wave Left and Right fair catch

In contrast, Farmville’s controls consist simply of the clickable buttons you see on the screen here:

Fv1

And Angry Bird’s controls consist of simply clicking, dragging and releasing birds:

Angry-birds-windows-control-guide-banner

Console games kept adding feature after feature to please their most demanding customers. Meanwhile, social and mobile games came along that were playable by the other 95%+ of the population.

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10 thoughts on “Disruption of the video game market, illustrated

  1. scotkramarich says:

    This is right on, complexity or rather the lack of equals more users. .

  2. Jerry Donner says:

    While I am all for disruptive technology, how about you make a fair comparison? Madden for the Wii against farmville? Completely different games (and platforms).Harvest Moon (a console game about farming) would be a more apt comparison, which has a lot less complicated controls.

  3. chris dixon says:

    jerrydon4: well, i was trying to compare the top games in the “incumbent” space to the top games in the “disruptive” space. I think it’s a valid comparison, but agree if you want to compare similar games harvest moon :: farmville and techmo bowl :: madden.

  4. Jerry Donner says:

    Fair enough. But you would think that making a game using motion technology would actually help simplify the controls, rather than complicate them. Those controls are just ridiculous.

  5. IanGertler says:

    Chris: I think the focus of this was to stress the differences between the two eras of gaming, as you mentioned in the last comment with “incumbents” vs “disruptives.” This does accentuate the changes in innovation and technology well.The only thing I’d point out (other than the transformation of gaming from a console-based industry to more of a device-based one) is that Madden is a legacy game. I’m not talking about the era it was made, but instead the fact that there’s a long time in the iterations of this game and they likely leverage so much of the past.If EA were to completely start fresh, I’m sure that the game controls and play would be much different … and we should see more of that given their focus on interactive, social and mobile gaming.To be determined! Then again, I’d still love a few round of Pitfall on the old Atari 2600.Cheers!

  6. hiremesf says:

    I’d rather spend an hour playing Madden than an hour playing Farmville .

  7. Nathan Hillery says:

    The correct name for the author is Clayton Christensen http://www.claytonchristensen.com/

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  9. ferida20 says:

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